Church, crosswalks in Salem, Mass. defaced with anti-LGBTQ graffiti in possible hate crime: police

Police in Salem, Mass., are investigating a series of acts of anti-LGBTQ vandalism — including the defacement of an LGBTQ-friendly church — that were reported across the city in the early hours of Wednesday.

“At approximately 3:30 this morning, the door of the Tabernacle Congregational Church … was defaced with anti-LGBTQ graffiti reading ‘Cancel LGBTQ 2024 Pride,’” Mayor Dominick Pangallo said in a statement, adding that a Pride-themed crosswalk nearby was also vandalized.

The incident, described by Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller as a “hate crime,” didn’t appear to be isolated.

According to Pangallo, Salem officers are also investigating reports of vandalism “to other Pride-related crosswalks and flags throughout the city,” which he said go against the city’s values of inclusion and acceptance.

“So many have worked hard to make Salem a community where everyone can feel safe and welcome,” Pangallo said. “This act of vandalism is contrary to who we are and to our city’s values. I strongly condemn this act of hate and stand firmly with those members of our community who identify as LGBTQIA+.”

Salem police are now working to identify the “individual or individuals who committed these malicious acts.” Anyone found responsible will be charged and prosecuted.

“We take any hate crime seriously in Salem and my department will work diligently to charge those responsible,” Miller said.

“Targeting the LGBTQ community and defacing a church is unacceptable,” he said, adding that finding the perpetrators “will be among our highest priorities.”

Later on Wednesday, the church said in a statement it had been “inundated by support” from the community and it vowed to repaint the doors “declaring what we believe:  ‘Love Wins.’”

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